Opposition forces Pragya Thakur to apologise in LS

Thakur seeks action against Rahul for calling her a “terrorist”

Amid sloganeering by Opposition members, Pragya, the Lok Sabha member from Bhopal, claimed that her remarks were “twisted” and later hit back at the Congress by submitting a breach of privilege notice against Rahul Gandhi for calling her a terrorist. Photo/PTI

An aggressive Opposition on Friday forced BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur to apologise twice in the Lok Sabha, after furore over her remarks which were seen as disrespectful of Mahatma Gandhi.

Amid sloganeering by Opposition members, Pragya, the Lok Sabha member from Bhopal, claimed that her remarks were “twisted” and later hit back at the Congress by submitting a breach of privilege notice against Rahul Gandhi for calling her a terrorist.

Pragya's remarks on patriotism during DMK member A Raja's reference to Nathuram Godse in a speech on the SPG Amendment Bill triggered a furore, with the Congress claiming that she had called Mahatma Gandhi's assassin a “patriot”.

In a swift damage control move, the BJP removed Pragya from a key parliamentary panel and also banned her from attending party meetings during the Winter Session.

As Opposition members stalled Lok Sabha proceedings seeking her ouster, Pragya tendered an apology, but went on to add that her remarks were “twisted”. She also pointed out that Rahul had called her a terrorist when she had been acquitted by the court.

Her remarks angered the Opposition members further, who raised slogans 'Down, Down Godse' prompting Speaker Om Birla to seek views on the matter from senior members and call floor leaders for closed-door consultations.

Tempers ran high during the Speaker's hour-long closed-door meeting with floor leaders, with Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress demanding an unconditional apology from Pragya. BJP member Meenakshi Lekhi launched a strong defence of her colleague.

In the Lok Sabha, BJP member Nishikant Dubey demanded action against Rahul for calling Pragya a “terrorist”.

Around 3 pm, Pragya again issued an apology, with the Speaker cutting her short and directing her to only read out the statement that was agreed upon.

“On November 27, during a discussion on SPG (Amendment) Bill, I did not call Nathuram Godse a patriot (desh bhakt), I did not even take his name. Still, if someone is hurt, I express my regret and apologise,” Pragya said, paving way for return to normalcy in the House.

Later, Pragya submitted a notice for breach of privilege against Rahul for calling her a “terrorist”.

“I stand by my statement,” Rahul told reporters, when asked about BJP demands for a breach of privilege motion against him.

The Lok Sabha Secretariat will examine the merit of the complaint in a notice submitted by Pragya, before recommending it to the Speaker for either admitting or rejecting it.

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